Although a centre-left ideology, social democratic parties are today mostly centre-right to right-wing when we look at the political spectrum. Thanks to the Political Compass we know today the true face of social democracy. After 24 years of turning to the right-wing, the former workers parties are now pro-capitalist and stand fully on the right side of the political spectrum. Unfortunate few people understand this. The social democrats are still able to manipulate the working class with their pseudo-leftist rhetoric. But when we look at the way they rule, we see a movement that is pro-capitalist and centre-right. The most right-wing social democratic party in Europe is the Labour Party in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This party has shifted so far to the right, you can call them almost conservative right-wing!
Social democracy, once the name for revolutionary socialists and reformist socialists. Both the supporters of Karl Marx and Eduard Bernstein used to call themselves social democrats. But in the 1930’s the social democrats had become anti-Marxist and opposed revolutionary socialism. Carlo Rosselli ( Italian reformist socialist ) was a leading social democrat who rejected the socialist planned-economy and favoured a social market economy. A system of both public and private ownership. Because revolutionary socialism became associated with totalitarianism thanks to Stalin, social democracy turned away from Marxist ideals and joined the side of the anticommunists!
The workers parties choose to abandon many socialist principals in order to appeal to the parties of capitalism. One of the first things social democrats surrendered was their opposition to war. In 1914 the social democrats of Germany, France and Great Britain supported their imperialist governments. The leader of the Social-democratic Party of Germany ( SPD ) would be the person who ensured the survival of the German ruling class in 1918. When the workers rose up against the Kaiser and the German Empire, it was the SPD who took over and ordered the army and right-wing militia’s to crush the workers councils, who took power in Bavaria and Berlin. Thanks to Friedrich Ebert ( SPD leader ), the capitalists of Germany were saved and Soviet Russia stood isolated and alone in their struggle against imperialism!
In 1936 the social democrats took power in Franc and Spain together with communist parties. These coalitions became known as the people’s fronts. Although two self-described socialist parties led these fronts, both France and Spain remained capitalist. Neither the social democrats nor the Stalinist; ”communists” ‘wished to destroy capitalism. In Spain the workers choose to rise up against the republican government led by the Spanish Socialist Workers Party and Spanish Communist Party. In Barcelona, workers councils took power led by anarchists and anti-Stalinist revolutionary socialists. The Spanish republican army and the Stalinist NKVD ( Stalin’s secret police ) were ordered to crush the Spanish revolution. A civil war soon broke out between anticommunist nationalists in the army, who never liked the People’s Front government. Under leadership of general Franco, the nationalists started the civil war which they won in 1939. The Spanish republican government collapsed, partly because the nationalists were armed with German weapons and even got German soldiers to fight for them. Also the republican government was weakened by their conflicts with the anarchists and revolutionary socialists, who were hunted and killed by Stalin’s NKVD!
After world war 2, the social democrats became coalition-partners in many West-European governments. Thanks to their opposition to the USSR and Marxist socialism, the parties of capitalism realized that social democrats could be used to keep the working class in line with the capitalist system. Social democratic leaders proofed to be very loyal to western imperialism, they supported the creation of the NATO, the Korean War and most supported their governments who struggled against ( Marxist ) anti-colonialists. During the 60’s a new left-wing was on the rise. This New Left was not dogmatic anticommunist and wanted to work with the communist parties. Yet the leadership of most social democratic parties opposed this. They were guided by dogmatic anticommunism!
Social democracy was not ready for the massive neoliberal wave that started in 1979. New-liberalism became the dogma of the right-wing. The market is to be God, competition is to be King. Neoliberals demand that the government does not intervene in the economy. State enterprises are to be privatized and markets deregulated, this would create a ”healthy” economy as they claim. Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan became the faces of neoliberal capitalism. When we speak about neoliberalism we speak about economic liberalism. Because neoliberalism can be used by all political parties. The Chinese ”Communist” Party is a neoliberal party too. They have privatized a lot of state enterprises and the last party congress has called for more deregulations!
Today in the year 2014, social democratic parties not leftist. The old workers parties who used to be Marxist around 1914, have now become the thing they opposed 100 years ago. This is the result of their betrayal of Marxist principals. They choose compromises and coalitions with the right-wing. Now workers see little difference between a social democratic party, a liberal party and a conservative party. Fewer people choose to vote and we see this in the turnout. In Great Britain 1/3 of all people refused to vote. In Germany the turnout was higher, but still 29% all Germans did not vote in the 2013 federal elections!
We revolutionary socialists can understand why people refuse to vote. They see no difference between social democrats, liberals and conservatives. The propaganda of the social democrats is leftist, progressive and all about social justice. But when in power, social democrats do not behave leftist. 100 years ago, a social democrat said he was a socialist and fought for the establishment of a socialist world. 50 years ago this changed from fighting for socialism, into fighting for a democratic and fair world. Now the propaganda is all about fairness and justice, but the people who claim to support this are not longer trusted. Their neoliberal actions of the last 24 years have proven this. Social democrats have allied themselves with the reactionary forces and carry out massive austerity plans. In Greece, the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement support massive tax cuts and privatisations, because the neoliberal European Union demanded this. Greek workers have punished them for this. But because social democrats still have a monopoly on the political left-wing in most nations, many workers keep voting for them in the hope of voting for the lesser evil!
Some social democratic parties are challenged by new leftist formations. In Greece you have the Coalition of the Radical Left called SYRIZA. In the Netherlands you have the Socialist Party and Germany has The Left. But these formation lack a genuine socialist program and are guided by classic social democratic demands like government regulations and progressive politics. Very few leftists parties struggle for socialism in today’s world. Even the old communist parties call for fairness and social justice instead of a socialist workers state. Some are still fighting for Marxist socialism, yet these communist parties are limited by Stalinist dogmatism. Like the Communist Party of Greece ( KKE ) who refuses to work with SYRIZA to establish a socialist republic in Greece. The Greek KKE thinks they are the only true leftist party and because of their sectarianism, they limit the changes of building socialism!
On the political spectrum we see the true face of social democracy. If the working class would realize this, then they might not vote for social democrats today. Because most social democratic parties have betrayed their leftist ideals. Just look at these nations and see were social democratic parties are positioned, all of them are on the right-wing side of the spectrum!